About Me

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MN, United States
Tutor, Business Owner, Technology innovator

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dream is lost, Vision renewed...

Rather liberal artsy, but it themes a passing I have to come to grips with...after working for nearly 18 months on my graduate work and pushing forward with a virtual commons idea, I've decided to bring it to a halt for several reasons, after consulting with some very good friends and former colleagues in my alma mater days of online tutoring (at AOL):
  1. It would require equivalent of a school system's hosting, storage, security, dedicated servers to handle all the intricate parts of my virtual center, and more moderators needed than a physical school to handle and supervise discussion groups.
  2. It's more liability than I'm able to cover at this point.  Every f2f teachers lives with this risk daily.
  3. It would take the capital equivalent of a full upscale business, and would require full investment as such, or sponsorship of an institution to lend that capital power.  Something that isn't gained (or proven) easily in this current economy.
However, my vision is very much alive, which shall be still "Each one reach one".  How to accomplish this I am not certain, but if I remain an outsider to the world of education (do not yet have a teaching contract), I will need to dig in and provide more awareness and more resources to wake up my home area to the 21st century (at least the schools, many of the students are already there).

This next semester of my graduate work looks promising, and may open the door to further opportunities and to crank up the volume.  Students will look for ways how to do things on their own, but they still operate by way of least resistence.  My goal is to provide a host of resources easily found hence making me easily found as someone who can bridge the gap for whatever topics they need help in.  My wiki development is proof of that (search for MrShel wiki).

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November news

For all that read this blog, I've gotten some new tools for you to check out at both my tutor site http://www.sheldahltutoring.com/, and my wiki http://www.mrshel.wikispaces.com/, and you may notice that they might look a little better too.  rCampus development has come to a halt, because the more I study it, I'm not as sure how friendly it will be to navigate for someone who has a lesser degree of technical knowledge; I'm not saying ignorant or "dumb," just that I want to make sure it meets my standard for LCT (Lowest Common Technology).  There are several people in this country, who've I've had the chance to bump into on the virtual by-ways, who still use dial-up.  Though the standard for a modem is 56Kbps, the chances of it maximzing with the C.O. or local branch are 16% or less.  Not to mention I spent a whole semester studying the concept of throughput, and still don't have a good definition! (By the way, ask your local ISP what their definition is!!)

If you're a teacher, make sure you subscribe to Richard Byrne's Free Technology 4 Teachers blog (on my blog list).  If you're a student, (or even a parent of one), the latest toy which one can use to graphically organize their website list, is by going to http://www.symbaloo.com/.  Kudos to my friend Casey out there who made a suggestion for it.

As always, if you have an idea, and would like to share it, I'm sure there's others who may have a question waiting for your idea as the answer.  That's been my view (or vyew--check the archive on that one).  My principle search for a total online learning environment (or to be able to construct one the way I want to) is still on...but have to find something that pays the bills too.  So, if you know anyone needing tutoring in math, I've helped many students online, and taught them to teach themselves (I know, not job security, but because I love to teach that way).

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Friday, October 22, 2010

A game designer is born...

Mostly I love to talk all things math (and this could be related), but somehow I got intrigued by YoYoGames platform of a gamemaker, GameMaker8.  I walked through most of the tutorial so far, and though I didn't need to be a programmer, there are a lot of properties to be aware of...bouncing, clicking, bouncing off walls (which is almost what I did in learning the environment).  I am going to hold true, and eventually design a basic arcade and/or math game. 

Who knows?  Perhaps I'll get nostalgic and create my own version of LodeRunner.  Long live Commodore 64!

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Use of Words

I really didn't understand what I didn't understand until I had to take a class for more understanding...Lost?

Me too, as I am studying Research Methods, which seems to be actually about methods research.  Do I sound like Andy Rooney yet?  I am grateful for 2 important things in this graduate class; a very patient professor who has extensive experience with this work, and a creative cohort body of students to help me along the way.

I knew there is a reason I picked Math over English for a major, so sorry Mrs. J!  The intricate way the words form together (especially in questions) make me frustrated over getting them wrong the first time.  After all, aren't we in a society where you put the pop-tart in the toaster for 45 seconds, watch 1 minute of "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" before flipping the channel, and get answers right on the 1st guess when it comes to standardized tests?

 You'll be happy to note that I'll save my Mark Twainisms for another time, but it really takes me back to the basics of study, rehearsal, familiarity, practice, application, and more study to come to grips with understanding what research world is about, and then hopefully produce a work that will significantly impact the life of at least one student or teacher.  Then I can say it was worth the headache, the 3a.m. light bulbs of truth, and multiple drafts of ideas funneling to one big capstone.

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting ready...

To those who I've shared my goals and visions, I have NOT made any headway to make any lessons for rCampus.  The fact that there are 1000's of online videos already have discouraged me from this amibition, yet if I were to do as PatrickJMT of Youtube.com, charge 99 cents a download for the videos produced.

In reality, I have been making unseen advances with my downstairs office/video production area.  My backroom is cleaned up (finally!) and ready for work/recording.  This brings me to another passage in the plan to produce electronic curriculum,  "How should I deliver it?"  There are several choices.

  1. Pen and paper method. (w/cam)
  2. Presenter in front of the board (w/cam)
  3. Jing it
  4. Use online whiteboards (such as vyew.com)
  5. Doing live sessions.
I like how easy option 1 makes for doing a tutor or lesson session;  the presenter just writes down the concepts in almost a notation form you could copy and use for your own notes.   However, the only way to challenge the receiver is to ask them to pause the clip, and try to work (an example) on their own.

The 2nd option is more "high touch" than the 1st, because you have the simulated feeling of a person talking/presenting to you, like a lecture in the classroom.  This still leaves no room for interaction other than pausing the clip.

The 3rd and 4th options are similar to the 1st 2, (playable clips) except without the need for a video camera, but still lacks interaction.

The 5th is the closest thing to face 2 face in technology, called synchronous learning.  However, to command an audience requires planning not just a meeting time, but platforms for hosting, using technology tools, and getting the audience to show up.

Once I have these areas figured out, I believe I'm on my way to developing my Learning Center, or as Dr. David V. Loertscher coins it, the "Learning Commons."

Til I chalk again,
Mr. Shel

Friday, July 23, 2010

Face Lift

Thanks to the new enhancements through Blogger, I now have a somewhat different look to my blog.  In addition, I have been working on rCampus, but not yet ready to publish any curriculum, because I've been sidetracked with other projects, though I did take the summer "off" from my master's program.

So far, I have registered and set up a tutor account through rCampus, and going by a handle appropriately named "MrShel" which I also have a code to find me quickly, which is T4763864.

That's all I have, as I keep diligently working at "finding" students to tutor this summer and fall.

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ahh Summer

 I hope you've enjoyed the change in scenery (if you're a student OR a teacher).  Now that my status has been changed, I have now more freedom to create my little snippets of lessons...not that there isn't a plethora already of Math and Reading.  I've found after being let go of one job, that I do better motivating myself as the boss. (make or break).  The comments I've followed from the blogs I'm subscribed to have been helpful to my mental appetite; however have been anorexically rejected in practice by the district I formally worked in.  This gives me new light and new motivation...specially to encourage those in the regular (math) education, to follow dan's link (see links at bottom) of his latest comments...to make the students "struggle-think," drop the concept as if in the middle of a cliffhanger movie, then when they ask for a conclusion, and if there's time, supplement the concept. 

I like that kind inquiry and curiosity.  It really shows the students ARE thinking. 

Now comes the question as to WHERE I should store the lessons/ideas/etc.  I'm thinking of using rCampus, and will be experimenting with modules.  Soon you will see a link both here and at my main website, http://www.sheldahltutoring.com/ which will include a place to find the items (or reference to them on the net, there's so many!!) which correlate to the standards (not sure whether I should stay specific to Minnesota or go with NCTM).

Till I chalk again,
Mr. Shel

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Final Count

Since I've been working feverishly on finding relevant work, I've neglected my post (pun intended). With the freedom of no new contract, I may seek to develop my tutor center with more withall, for lack of a better word. Likewise, I will be changing my Wiki space page name to CSES-Int-Algebra.wikispaces.com (the one I've been working on since last fall). It is my intention to make it more standards-friendly and less text dependent. This transition will have to be over the summer, after I come back from Disney World.

Til I chalk again, Mr. Shel

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home Stretch

Forgive me for not blogging in the last month! I realize there are interested people out there that do come across my blog, and parents who would like to see how my efforts could further their children's education, but I still have yet to convince the students to pour some (notice I didn't say all) of their unscrupulous energy to use their thumbtop abilities to benefit their own education (and grades). For example, my wikispaces math setup at www.isd2134.wikispaces.com

Though we have a district wide ban on electronic device use during school hours, it simply amazes me the number of PARENTS who text/try to call their students DURING school hours, to give them messages of what to do, what siblings to care for, oh, and to turn the dishwasher on and take out the trash when they come home. Are these the same parents that tell "us" teachers to make sure they don't text Johnny or Suzy during the day??

Since this is the homestretch, I will not force the issue to try to make any new technological advances...but next year....

For the most part, I will try to keep making a few podcasts available on my rSchool Today teacher page at our school site (see previous reference).

Til I chalk again,

Mr. "Shel"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Behind the Eight ball...again.

I admit it, I did not formally force whole classes of students, most of whom aren't 11th graders, to go through weeks of MCA testing practice. In fact, the bulk of what I did in the 3 weeks prior, to focus in, was to introduce/revisit vocabulary, walk through the math test sampler, including 1st 2 pages of problems, what constitutes a good problem (6) vs. a poor one (1). Outside of that, I emphasized problem solving, attention to form, and basically what I do with every lesson I teach, organization and processing. (I also made a special entry of my school teacher page devoted to MCA)

As a teacher who's on a maiden voyage with the district I serve this year, I hope to really discover with my department how to fairly handle those 11th graders (considering the classes I teach are not traditionally 11th grade math), and did receive a parent's frustration of the fairness of preparation. Outside of that, I did receive positive feedback from other students who took advantage of the review, and felt adequately prepared for the MCA...

6 of one, half a dozen of the other...

For those interested in SAT preparation, my RSS subscription to some math blogs yielded this fine site: http://www.onlinemathlearning.com/sat-tips-strategies.html, but that is something relevant to the student only, not the district at-large.

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Sheldahl

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Weekly Note: Work in progress

Now that I realized that I have a whole command of technology apps, from buying a license for a video converter last year, I now have a slew of new "toys" to work with. This of course may have to be put somewhat on hold, as I am working on 2 projects for my graduate classes, but will utilize some to benefit the students also.

Nevertheless, I promised (at least the intermediate algebra) students, a vodcast of one or more lessons, which may turn up anytime between now and May. I am exploring editing techniques on my first "draft" video clip, and try to whittle it down, as the raw data reaches a size of 208 megabytes!

My first podcasts are in the notes section of my school site's Intermediate Algebra class, http://www.usc.k12.mn.us/uschs/csheldahl/

This week was broken up with MCA II testing, so perhaps next week I'll some more projects completed!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I have been trying to wrap around the idea of screencasting, or at least a way I can show how to do something once, and then archive it, so that others can look at it again. This is not a new idea, because actually America Online, for example, would take sessions I had with students when I was a volunteer tutor in their Academic Assistance Center and archive them by category, then type of (math) problem. I remember I did enough of those that I started referring students to my old scripts of sessions (or at least where to find they were kept) if they didn't want to "speak" (then it was texting only) with a "live" person, but to read up on it. Soon I hope to start doing so, but may have to use a 3rd party, as Blogger doesn't know how to treat enclosures (audio/video files I would try to imbed here).

Til I chalk again, Mr. Sheldahl

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Educational riddles/issues brought up at a birthday party? Only at our house!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekly Minutes

It's not been the smoothest week, but I get to start new concepts with my intermediate algebra class, factoring "completely." With my algebra 1 class I'll be reviewing for their lesson quiz on problem solving with inequalities, and with my applied statistics class, we'll be starting with mean, median, and mode.

Still looking for a way to include students to help them feel like contributing, and not just more of the same "blog me" stuff. Perhaps I shall try an experiment with Flickr and see how it goes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekly minutes

Finally! I've been home 2 days because of a cold (which some would call a "warm,") and I'm ready to come back to school even though I'm not 100% there. This week the Intermediate algebra students are continuing to work on factoring by grouping, the applied stats group will be going over a project called "A Matter of Survival," taken from NCTM Mathematics Teacher, and Algebra I (my class) will be finishing up the topic of box and whisker plots this week. Please see the school's webpage at http://www.usc.k12.mn.us to check on my scheduled assignments for the week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekly Minutes

Right now, the Intermediate Algebra students are working on factoring polynomials, and may want some extra practice as we go into factoring by grouping (Distributive method). The Algebra I students are wondering "how much longer are we going to do inequalities?" And the Statistics class seems to doing okay as long as they don't have to take home a lengthy assignment. If you have questions or comments or positive add-ins, they're welcomed! --Mr. Sheldahl

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Managing Blogs

I haven't looked into managing multiple blogs yet, but it seems that with students desiring expression, that I may have to open the door to do it. Hopefully, this will encourage my hesitant students (who already feel they have to do this unnecessary task for another teacher) to do it.

I already feel a kind of disparity among students, who only want to type certain things for certain teachers. Just imagine these students, after overcoming a anxiety or assurance of anonymity, to have a different teacher, let's say "B" read their material from what they created under teacher "A." Besides the fact that they shouldn't feel this way, it would really be good to observe a student in an environment other than the one they come to in my room every day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Favorite Blog

One of my favorite blogs come from Mr. Dan Meyer, also known as dy/dan, http://blog.mrmeyer.com/. He's a math teacher I've been following for a few months now, and has some good insight.

Another is http://www.freetech4teachers.com, which is a must see, and I have both on my start page at iGoogle.

Welcome to first Blog

This my first blog on Blogger. I originally had setup a blog on a small business website through Microsoft (underwritten by Melbourne IT), but I made the mistake of not renewing it thinking that the email reminders to pay the renewal fee was bogus.

As it turns out, the email was legit, and it went to my inbox that got "swept away," therefore I was not able to click on the link to renew once the deadline passed by.

This is a continuation of that endeavor, to bring students, parents and teachers together to improve ways at communicating about math, and increasing inquiry about mathematic topics. My symbol for my business is the portable blackboard, so I find it fitting to post it here.